Yesterday was the large volunteer recognition event for the organization I volunteer for. Meals on Wheels provides services for seniors to help them maintain their independence and stay in their homes longer. Volunteers take meals to clients and provide transportation to appointments. It is a cause that I became involved in thanks to my Mom who began working for them. It is also a cause that over the years has become closer to my heart.
Since I am not in a position right now to commit my time to delivering meals or driving clients I am given the title of special events volunteer. I volunteer my talents to help recognize the truly amazing things these volunteers do on a regular basis. I offer my photography services free of charge at the time of the events which usually ends up being 3 times a year. I spend the day helping set up for the event and in October I help with the audio-visual aspect of the presentation which involves a sideshow and a music video, or musical presentation based on the theme of the year.
I am so lucky to be given such an opportunity. I get to collaborate with some amazing people, but the reward is so amazing. Walking around the room looking at all these people who go over and above on a daily basis to make sure people maintain their independence is fantastic. What blows me away is most of these people are seniors themselves. There are volunteers who are in their 70s, 80s, and even in their 90s. These people though they may not know it have shown me the key to a long, healthy and fulfilling life is to give back. This is a message I am trying to instill in Adam. At yesterday’s event we recognized 3 people who have been giving their time for 25 years to this organization. Every year there are people like this we recognize and I can only hope I too can celebrate 25 years of volunteering.
I also can’t tell you the joy I get year after year photographing these volunteers. There is nothing special about the photos. They are honestly quick shots while they are sitting at the table in most cases. A quick hey I’m back, how are you guys? What have you been up to, click the photo and off to the next table and group of people. These photos however are printed and sent out in Christmas cards, Thank You Cards and displayed in the office to remind everyone that these people are the ones who keep the organization going. I have people comment on how I took such a great picture and year after year they look forward to receiving the updated one.
Another thing I love is to hear the laughing, and seeing the enjoyment that people get out of watching the videos I put together. They are time-consuming and sometimes stressful however for that 5 minutes where I have captured the attention of 250 people and they laugh and clap, I forget about how much time I put into it because it doesn’t matter. The enjoyment and the fact that people look forward to it year after year is rewarding.
All that is left is to proof and edit the photos from yesterday which is always a treat. Then I am done the large projects until we begin again next year. It’s always a nice break but I do often think about how we can top this year’s presentation. I’m sure Laura who I work closely with on these things is thinking the same thing.
This is where I insert my PSA. There are so many organizations that ask for money in this world. There are also so many that ask for time. We as humans can’t give to every single one and we can’t volunteer for every organization but there are many ways you can give back. Sometimes you have to think outside the box but I’m sure if you contacted any organization and discussed with their volunteer co-coordinator what you have to offer and find out what they need, you too can find yourself in a similar position as I am, doing what you can and feeling so rewarded for doing so.
As a special treat I’ve included one of music videos we did featuring the Dixie Chickadees. These three ladies are actual Meals on Wheels employees who get up and sing for their volunteers every year. It’s amazing how much people love it.